Department of Corrections denies use of "solitary confinement" in NZ

The Department of Corrections says solitary confinement is not used in New Zealand prisons,

People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) launched a campaign calling for an end to what they refer to as solitary confinement.

The group defines solitary confinement as the forced isolation of prisoners from meaningful human contact for twenty to twenty four hours a day.

According to PAPA’s analysis of data released under the Official Information Act, a New Zealand prisoner is put in solitary confinement approximately every 43 minutes.

The Department of Corrections disagrees and says it uses a form of directed segregation, but only when a prisoner’s behaviour presents a serious threat to others, or themselves.

National Commissioner Rachel Leota says those in segregation are supervised and provided minimal entitlements which include excercise, phone calls and access to visitors.

The Department says 118 prisoners out of a total population of more than 10,000 were subject to directed segregation up to the 30th of June this year.

Leota says, “Solitary confinement is not used in New Zealand prisons. Many of the people that we manage in prisons are dangerous, and can be extremely violent. We have a duty of care to our staff, and other prisoners in our custody, and must keep them safe from harm. Due to the risk that their behaviour presents to the security of the prison, the safety of others, or themselves, prisoners may at times be lawfully denied association with other prisoners or groups of prisoners. 

“At all times segregated prisoners continue to be provided opportunities for exercise, access to visitors, mail, telephone calls and other minimum entitlements set out in the Corrections Act. They also have regular and ongoing contact with Corrections staff, including our health services staff and mental health professionals as required."